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תוכן מסופק על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde. כל תוכן הפודקאסטים כולל פרקים, גרפיקה ותיאורי פודקאסטים מועלים ומסופקים ישירות על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde או שותף פלטפורמת הפודקאסט שלו. אם אתה מאמין שמישהו משתמש ביצירה שלך המוגנת בזכויות יוצרים ללא רשותך, אתה יכול לעקוב אחר התהליך המתואר כאן https://he.player.fm/legal.
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Jono Hey is explaining the world one sketch at a time- S14/E03

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תוכן מסופק על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde. כל תוכן הפודקאסטים כולל פרקים, גרפיקה ותיאורי פודקאסטים מועלים ומסופקים ישירות על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde או שותף פלטפורמת הפודקאסט שלו. אם אתה מאמין שמישהו משתמש ביצירה שלך המוגנת בזכויות יוצרים ללא רשותך, אתה יכול לעקוב אחר התהליך המתואר כאן https://he.player.fm/legal.

In this episode, Jono Hey shares how he visually represents complex ideas in simple ways that are sticky, memorable, and quick to get to grips with. He also talks about building a platform that connects schools with substitute teachers.

Sponsored by Concepts

This episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast is brought to you by Concepts, a perfect tool for sketchnoting, available on iOS, Windows, and Android.

Concepts' vector-based drawing feature gives you the power to adjust your drawings saving hours and hours of rework.

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Running Order

  • Intro
  • Welcome
  • Who is Jono Hey
  • Origin Story
  • Jono Hey's current work
  • Sponsor: Concepts
  • Tips
  • Tools
  • Where to find Jono Hey
  • Outro

Links

Amazon affiliate links support the Sketchnote Army Podcast.

Tools

Amazon affiliate links support the Sketchnote Army Podcast.

Tips

  1. The first draft is always perfect.
  2. Keep it simple.
  3. Keep going.

Credits

  • Producer: Alec Pulianas
  • Theme music: Jon Schiedermayer
  • Shownotes and transcripts: Esther Odoro

Subscribe to the Sketchnote Army Podcast

You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube or your favorite podcast listening source.

Support the Podcast

To support the creation, production, and hosting of the Sketchnote Army Podcast, buy one of Mike Rohde’s bestselling books. Use code ROHDE40 at Peachpit.com for 40% off!

Episode Transcript

Mike Rohde: Hey everyone, it's Mike and I'm here with Jono Hey. Jono, welcome to the show. It's so good to have you.

Jono Hey: Well, thanks, Mike. It's so good to finally meet you after all these years.

MR: Yeah, it's great. We've connected years and years ago, specifically for a sample or I guess one of your pieces that we included in one of the sketchnote handbooks, sketchnote workbooks because I thought your stuff was really cool, and the way you thought about visualization was really interesting. So that's, I think, how we crossed paths initially, probably 10 years ago, almost.

JH: Yeah, I think it was probably about 10 years ago.

MR: Isn't that crazy?

JH: Yeah. And I came across your work from originally when you did the re-work book. That's for--

MR: That's right.

JH: -- which was also a long time ago.

MR: Yeah. That was more like 15 years ago almost that now. So crazy how time flies. Anyway, so that's how we crossed paths. I've always loved your work, and I'm amazed at your prolific nature and your ability to continuously produce these sketchplanations.

And if you are watching or listening, and you've not heard of, or seen Jono's sketchplanations, they're amazing. He basically visually represents often very complex ideas in simple ways. So you can sort of get the concept of the idea with some notes and such to help, you know, describe it. Is that a fair way to describe what your sketchplanations are?

JH: Yeah, definitely. It's about taking a concept and trying to just represent it in a picture in a way that's sort of sticky and memorable and quick to get to grips with. I think over the years I've definitely started adding a bit more layer of description, which you can take optionally, but you don't have to have it. That's the idea is that you have that surface level. If it's interesting, you can dive in, and if not, carry on, you know.

MR: Yeah. And I'd love to hear sort of the origin story of that and what is driving you to continue, but first, tell us a little bit about what you do and who you are, and then you can jump right into your -- I always love to have people do their own origin story.

So how did you end up doing what you're doing? Did you draw as a kid? Did somehow you snuck through school without it being shaken out of you? Or how did that all begin? So start with who you are, what you do, and then where you came from.

JH: Cool. Yeah, as you said, I'm Jono, and I'm mostly here because of my work for Sketchplanations, which is a weekly newsletter working towards explaining the world one sketch at a time. With the illustration side, I was lucky enough to do some illustrations for Bill Gates's book recently, the --

MR: Oh, good.

JH: -- "How to Prevent the Next Pandemic," which was really cool. The illustrations, Sketchplanations has all been sort of a side project, which I've been doing now for the 10 years or so, that we've crossed paths. In my day job, I run product development. So I've been a UX designer and I run product delivery.

I'm now on my second startup, which has been a really cool and really interesting parallel journey, and it feeds a lot of content and the sorts of things that come into Sketchplanations. You ask the origin story so I will go right back.

MR: Okay, good.

JH: Because I think it makes sense as to why I am doing what I'm doing. And I think if I go back far enough, I always used to quite like drawing, but I was never particularly good at art in the sense that they were always better artists than me, but I was always quite good at the maths and the science side of things.

And so, if I think back to, what's high school in the U.S. or A-levels in the UK, I did a bunch of science and maths-based ones, and then I did art. Art was always the one, which I was very happy to go spend my lunchtime working on my art homework, but of course, I didn't do as well in my art as all the other stuff.

And so, what I ended up doing was design engineering, which is a lovely way to blend the two things together really. So you're trying to draw for a purpose and you're trying to communicate things, come up with ideas, but then express them on paper. But they have to work as well, so you have to have the math and the science bit right.

I don't know who your heroes were growing up, but DaVinci was always one of mine. And it's quite difficult to, you know, get the breadth of what evidently Leonardo da Vinci was able to do, but that for me, when I was growing up, was always ideal, beautifully using his art to express like scientific or engineering concepts, which was cool.

So in many ways, I think that's sort of lives on in what I was still been trying to do. Way back, I was good at science and maths, but I always enjoyed the art and I was always interested also in like creative thinking, and so, when I came out of university, I spent a lot of time working on creativity, really, like design, creativity, how do you come up with new, cool ideas? And I was really interested in how we think I got really into mind maps.

So I use mind maps all the time. When pre preparing for this, and mind maps are brilliant for like visual recording and sketchnoting. I was so interested in it that I went over to UC Berkeley, where I did a Ph.D. studying new product development.

MR: Oh, wow.

JH: That was a really nice combination. So they had a great program there where you have the engineering side, but then you have the business side from the business school there. And then you have sort of industrial design, which was a collaboration with the California College of the Arts.

And so, you bring all of that together and then you want to come up with new products. But again, it's really about communicating ideas, but in a ways that the ideas have to work. Like new products, they have to be feasible and they have to be buildable, you know.

MR: Mm-hmm.

JH: UC Berkeley, I think was such an interesting place because I was also able to go explore, you know, like sociology and research methods. I did some really interesting classes in the language school there with George Lakoff on Metaphor. I was in the Berkeley Institute of Design, and they had a big focus on HCI, which is human-computer interaction.

And so, there was lots of psychology concepts that people were bringing in and were going around the place. And of course, I was involved with software. So it was lots of different influences. And I think you probably see pieces of all of those in the topics that I choose for Sketchplanations

MR: Yeah.

JH: After UC Berkeley, I found a fantastic company called Jump Associates who was actually -- I did a class at Stanford and the professor there works at Jump Associates. They're a growth strategy firm, which was all about helping companies figure out what they should do next, particularly when it came to new products.

But they had some really brilliant ways of working which still influenced me to this day. And what they were really good at, one of the things they were really good at was visual recording 'cause that's what we called it there, but in many ways, it was sketchnoting.

And so, we do a lot of working with clients where you do a workshop, you bring all the right people in the room, and you put provocative questions about, like, the nature of the project. We're trying to track what are the biggest challenges and so on. And then somebody on our team would be up there with a big whiteboard capturing the conversation and trying to get down the key ideas, and so, they didn't get lost.

And I've always had an interest in this, like, the ideas don't get lost in this sort of ether. You know, you had a conversation, some really good ideas, they floated away. Somebody wrote down something, but it wasn't necessarily the good things. And I just saw the power of like, you take a conversation and you put it up real time on the board, and it steers the conversation because it helps people come back to previous concepts that have been raised.

If somebody says, "Oh, the way I think of it is like this and this and this," and you put them up, and then later in the conversation people can see that on the board and they come back to that. And because that was like a core skill there, they really helped people develop with how to capture ideas in real-time on a board.

And even down to really basic things like how to properly hold a whiteboard pen so that you don't end up with like a thin line and then a thick line when you didn't mean to, and the color is even as you go, and what size letters should you be so that people all around the room can always read it wherever they are.

How do you keep your handwriting straight so that it doesn't end up looking like a mess? And we'd often like, take pictures of these at the end and present them and use them as a record of the discussion that we had.

And they were really valuable, I think artifacts, it was from the design process, but really for a purpose. And I think the other thing I think that Jump Associate was really interesting with was, it wasn't just physical things, but a lot of it was like frameworks or models. You are like visualizing abstract things as well.

So like, yeah, the three challenges in this. And then you try and visualize three challenges. You know, it is sort of an abstract way of thinking of things, or like business two by twos and things like that.

So I kept those skills going since Jump Associates. I worked in user experience in design at my first startup, and I was always like sketching user interfaces and like what it be, you know, user journeys, mapping out, and how people are going through your product, that kind of thing. And then back in 2012, I got a Christmas present from my sister, which was a -- they still sell it, it's a lovely book. It's a sketch-a-day journal.

A little green book about that size. If you open it up, there's two spaces for two sketches on each side of the page. So that's four days' worth, and it's literally just draw something a day. And so, I did that, and it was really lovely 'cause, you know, I'd always enjoy drawing, remember being on holidays as a kid and taking a little sketchbook postcards and stuff like that, and sitting outside in the evening and drawing them.

But I didn't find I was doing that art as much during the day anymore. And so, it was really nice just to draw something every day. And I found when I got to the end of that, I was like, "Ah, kind of miss, it seems a bit of a waste to not be drawing anymore." And then I was like, "Okay, well it would be nice also if it helped me in some way."

And so, I had this idea, well, I'll try and explain something because that's what I'm trying to do all day, is like, communicate an idea, communicate a concept. So, I'll explain something every day in a sketch. And I did that for a year, one a day. Halfway through I started posting some, 'cause they look quite nice. And I had little Moleskine what are they called? There was storyboard.

MR: Storyboard, yeah. I was guessing that that was what that you're using.

JH: Yeah. And then they really, they're really lovely. And so it was, it's a very similar format. You know, they're small sketchbooks, you open 'em up, there's four frames every now and then there's a one with three frames on one page. And just using that as like, these are my guides. I had to stay within that and, and do something.

And so I did that. And so, I started posting them and somebody said at one point, "Hey, you should put these online somewhere." And so, I started a little Tumblr page and started putting some on, on Twitter and, and people liked them. And so, I definitely found that I couldn't easily sustain one a day. But when I finished that, I went to one a week -- actually, it went to two a week first.

And I found that just didn't work at all because when there's two a week, you can always pick tomorrow to do one as opposed to today. But when there's one a week, you gotta make it happen. And now I've been doing that for 10 years. Maybe I've learned something.

MR: Wow. Sounds to me like a book opportunity to me, where you could gather, if not all, maybe the best of those sketchplanations and bound those into some kind of a book that people would buy. I would buy that book. I don't know about anybody else, but I think it would be quite nice.

JH: Thank you. Well, you know what? I am actually working on it at the moment.

MR: Oh, good. I'm glad to hear that.

JH: Yeah. After a long time, a publisher got in touch with me, somebody who've been following the newsletter and with a similar idea. And I've been, yeah, a few days a week over the last year trying to assemble everything together and I've been redoing things and checking things and it's coming together hopefully for next April, is the idea.

MR: Oh, great. That would be great. You have to let us know so we can share it with the Sketchnote Army community, so we can definitely get some pre-orders and purchases going for you.

JH: Definitely do that. Thank you.

MR: I know in the publishing business these days, pre-orders are a huge deal. Often publishers give away special tidbits to get you to pre-order. It looks very good on the sales charts. So if we can help in that way, I think the people here would be really your ideal customer for buying that for themselves and others.

JH: Well, I'll definitely take your tips on this. This would be book number one for me. So yeah, all your advice is welcome, and all your help. That'd be brilliant. Thank you.

MR: Yeah. You're so welcome. Well, this is pretty fascinating. It's interesting, our paths in some ways are parallel. Not exactly, but I was never the best artist either. I just was more practical in the work that I did. So I sort of took what art skill I had and sort of applied it to practical things. And so, that just kind of led me on my path. I'm also a user experience designer as well.

And I had a period of time for about three years where we did very similar things to what you talked about with the whiteboard with developers. So we would queue up software features that needed to be added to our software we were building. And we would sit down on Mondays and queue it up, look at what existed in the old software, do we like it? How could we improve it? Okay, let's have a discussion, and I would go to the board and document most of it.

Occasionally, a developer would ask to come up and draw, which always was my highlight of my day. And they would draw concepts, we would annotate it, take a photo, throw it on a SharePoint space, and sometimes the developers would just take the sketches we did and build right off of that. And other times I'd do mockups to kind of move things forward.

So, when you talked about that, I remembered how enjoyable that was for everybody. Really, everybody in that group. Developers, product owners, business analysts, all seemed to really enjoy it because as you say, there were these great ideas floating around in the ether if no one was attending to that to try and --

I had this idea of like, someone catching butterflies with a net. Like if you didn't catch those butterflies and pin them, you know, to the wall they would be lost because, you know, that person themselves maybe didn't even realize how valuable that idea was. You really needed someone to spot it and then capture it. So I think that's a really valuable way to work.

**JH:**Yeah. It's interesting that I have two real contrasting experiences there. Which one was this engineering world. And if you think of like, oh, you know, you want to see how fast this is gonna go when it knocks into that, it's like you draw the diagram, it's all established what the principles are. You don't just explain it with words, you draw it out exactly as it's gonna happen, right?

And then I did some classes in the education department at UC Berkeley, and we were talking about all sorts of really fascinating and difficult topics like reliability and validity and some concepts from sociology and things like that. And we'd sit in these rooms and do the reading beforehand, come in, and then you talk for an hour and lots of interesting points will come up, and everybody would just sort of absorb it, I guess, and scribble the odd word down and then walk off.

And I remember thinking as I left those classes, there was some really good stuff there, but I think everybody's gonna come out with a different view of it, and people are gonna forget some parts and remember others. And it's just a shame you can't get some middle ground a bit where you can talk about them things which are a bit more abstract, but actually help give them shape, give them a form that we can all be sure we're talking about the same thing.

And that happens in product development so often. You talked about software where we all talk about an idea and we all assume that we've got the same idea, but in fact, we don't. And part of what drawing it on the board is, and even just sometimes it's words, right? Trying to put it concretely into words is realizing, "Oh, when you said that, I was thinking of something different."

And it just puts this sort of shared space where you can all look at it and go, "Oh, yeah, now we're all on the same page here. And it was fascinating these discussions in the educator's department, but I'm sure we came across -- we left it with all sorts of different ideas, you know, afterwards.

MR: I used to call that -- I don't know if I got this term from somewhere or what, but I called it the illusion of agreement. So we all thought we agreed, but we all had different ideas in our heads. And if you didn't do something to sort of establish. Often, I would joke around with people like, okay, what we're doing here is we're just, I'm putting things on the board so we have something to argue about, right? To disagree about. Because if you start with something to disagree about, it least you have some starting point, and then you can work toward agreement from there.

So, you know, often it wasn't necessarily disagreement, but it was not uncommon for one person to talk about something and I would draw it on the board and they'd say, "No, no, that's not exactly what I was thinking." And then I'd hand the marker to them and they would come up and draw it and make it clear from their perspective.

And it sort of gave some solidity or some physicality or something to that idea. But then we could say, "Oh, okay, now I see what you're saying, and now let's have the discussion around that." We would build on it. And, you know, often that would be the solution that would work for us. So that was quite enjoyable.

JH: Yeah. The illusion of agreement is a great term. My thesis in the end was about reframing in the design process and how you settle as a design team on the framing of the design problem. And a lot of -- well, you wrote a paper about the how does teams establish a shared frame of things. And some of it is like when you put something out there, the conflicts and the differences become salient, whereas they weren't before.

And exactly that you all leave the meeting thinking that, "Great, we all know what to do", and you all think you've all actually got different ideas in mind about what that is. And when you come back later and you've built the wrong thing, everybody's like, "No, no, that's not what I meant." And so how do you head that off as early as possible? And some of it's making it concrete, and that's what the visuals are useful for.

MR: Yeah. Maybe the biggest risk in that illusion of agreement walking away is you actually build five new things. Well, then which of the five will we choose, right? Or is there overlap enough that they could be merged into one thing so that we're not spending energy in five directions, we redirect toward one direction, and kind of come to an agreement together?

JH: Yeah. Love that. And the sort of thing I still come across in my day job on a regular basis.

MR: Something else that struck me, and this is just something that struck me and relates to my education, is it sounded like Berkeley did lots of cross-training. So there was lots of overlap of departments, or at least for you as a student, you were kind of stepping into a variety of what would seem like unrelated spaces, but yet they are very related.

In my education and history, I went to a technical school and they were really, really adamant at that time about this cross-training. So if you were a designer, and this is like old school print designer, that's when I went to school, you were required to take photography classes because in those days you would work with photographers all the time to, you know, describe to them what you're looking for as a designer, and they would inform you. So you had to understand like, what are the materials that they work with so you could really understand it.

And also, printers. And I found myself working in the printing room and because I was so practical, I would often become almost like a teaching assistant down there because I had some history taking printing classes prior. So I would be in the design classes, sort of being the assistant to the teacher who often wasn't in the darkroom showing how to shoot films or whatever the thing was we were doing.

And so, I became sort of this teacher, but I always loved the cross-training 'cause I felt like I understood more of the holistic job that we were all doing together, even though my part was just one piece of it gave me a better appreciation of those and how they fit together. And it sounds like maybe you're doing something like that at Berkeley.

JH: Yeah. One of the things it is interesting is a difference I think in general between like doing a doctorate in the UK versus often I think in the U.S. Whereas in the UK typically, you might find a research advisor who's got a project idea and you are interested in it too, and it's all sort of settled and you go off and you do that research, it takes three years and then you present it.

In Berkeley, which I really appreciated, it wasn't expected that you come in knowing what it is exactly you wanna do. You're like, "I had an idea of what I was interested in." But essentially you spent the first two years taking classes to basically get you to be, I'd say like getting on for a world expert in each of these areas, really build your knowledge.

But that, I guess, gave you a huge amount of flexibility. And so, yeah, it was brilliant to be able to take classes in the language school. And I remember doing ones on game design and I took some in the information school and the education department and just that sort of breadth of knowledge and you never know which ideas are gonna be the ones coming in to be useful.

And I definitely really appreciated that. Whereas if I, you know, a traditional way, I was like, "Oh, I was in design engineering, I stay in the engineering school." That's where I do all my classes. But actually, I think it broadened my outlook and probably improved the end product is great deal by being able to do all that.

And hopefully, one of the things I think is interesting about sketchplanations is it's, I think, you know, none of us, just because you work in one area doesn't mean that's the only thing you're good at or the only thing you're interested in.

And so, it's nice to be able to go, you know, well here's the thing on wellbeing or healthcare, and then here's the thing about design and here's the thing about, you know, a business tool. And any of us can appreciate all of those. So yeah, I love the idea of being able to take ideas from lots of different places. It was definitely valuable to me.

MR: Well, we have lots of educators who I think listen to the podcast, so at the very least this can be an encouragement to teachers, teachers, if you're listening that doing cross-training with your students is really valuable, even if the students don't realize it in the moment.

You know, I certainly had plenty of colleagues in my university, in my technical school who grumbled that they had to go do photography class or had to do drawing. You know, "I'm a printer, why do I need to do these things?" But ultimately, it gave them a better-rounded experience. So if you're an educator, if you can find ways to sneak in cross-training, Jono and I are big fans of the idea.

JH: Hundred percent.

MR: Well, you sort of led us to what you're doing these days. What are you currently up to now? Are you working on software? Are you working on hardware? And how does you know, your visualization skills sort of fit into the work you're doing today?

JH: Yeah, I mean, I split my time at the moment. So a few days a week, I'm working, say right now on pulling together a book for sketchplanations and still continuing that. In the day-to-day, I lead product development team and -- well, four product development teams.

The company I'm working at is called Zen Educate. And we built a platform that connects schools with substitute teachers. So, oh, you can think about a bit like an Uber or an Airbnb, but for teachers to find work at schools and vice versa.

It is just such a really nice area where you're bringing in different skill sets and you're forced to do that. So you have to have people who know about education, and then you have to have software developers and you have a product manager and you have a designer, and you try and bring all of that expertise together to create something that is gonna provide value for teachers and for schools.

I do less of this specific day-to-day design and things than I used to. But you know, both the companies I've worked on the last 10 years started when they were very small. And I really like that phase 'cause just have to do everything otherwise nothing happens. But it's really nice.

So, you know, you're going out and doing research interviews, but you're also sketching interfaces, you're testing things as before they're delivered, you're writing product releases, you're communicating with, you know, stakeholders internally or the board members, you know, and all sorts of things.

And so, yeah, my job is a mix of all of that at the moment. I think we provide a great service for schools and we actually save. It's more efficient so we save schools money and we can pay teachers more. And we started in the UK, but we've since launched in the U.S. which is really exciting. So yeah, lots to keep me busy on that front too.

MR: That's pretty cool having those two clients, right? You know, schools needing on-demand teachers and then teachers being out there on a bench looking for an opportunity that you're just sort of putting those two things together in a great way. That's pretty cool.

JH: Yeah. And just as an example about where I think of visualization helping in that kind of thing, there's some really -- so it's a marketplace. You've got two sides of a marketplace and you have to balance supply and demand. And, you know, in some ways that's very concrete because you take a specific job that's available, let's say, and a teacher who wants to do it, and you wanna have to connect them properly. But there's also, just how do you think about a marketplace and making this successful?

And so, there's a nice concept called the Amazon flywheel, and there's another one called, I think it was Uber's virtuous cycle. I did sketches of both of those. And they just help you sort of -- you'll see like it is a little cycle like, you know, the more teachers you have on the marketplace, the better the matches are with the jobs, let's say, so the better the experience for schools, which means they put more of jobs available, which means that tracks more teachers. And so, you end up with like a flywheel.

And so, the same is true for Amazon's marketplace. The same is true for the density of drivers on Uber or journeys that you can do. And I just think like, it's interesting how it's easy, it's fine to talk about that, but it's so different when you put like a visualization or something like that, people just get it. You're like, "Oh, yeah, I see how it works." Whereas day to day there's like million little bits of data points, but trying to communicate abstract ways of thinking about these things, is sometimes super valuable. And so, I still like it at that sort of level.

MR: Yeah. And I imagine some people, like a developer, let's say, they're looking at this one little piece, like, I need to deliver this feature, or, but there is this whole flywheel or thing happening and they could see their position within it and why it's important what they're doing, right? So it gives meaning in a lot of ways.

Where if you just were heads down, pounding away on this feature, it wouldn't maybe have the same meaning to you, right? Like, "Hey, I'm part of this flywheel, or our goal is to really get this moving forward and let it have its own momentum."

JH: Yeah. Everybody's a connection to what's the point of what you're doing? There's dude, you should come across Dan Pink has really nice framework autonomy, mastery, purpose about motivation.

And so, I did a sketch of that and I think the purpose side of it is just so like, why am I doing what I'm doing? It's not exciting for me to be just creating this button, but if this button's gonna do this and that's gonna enable this bigger picture thing, then yeah, keeps you getting up every day.

MR: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, this has been really, really interesting and fascinating. We'll have to look around a little bit and if you've got those particular concepts and sketchplanations, maybe we can have some direct links to those so those who are listening or watching can pop 'em up on the screen and take a peek. So we'll work on that for the show notes later.

Let's shift now to your tools. I'm always really fascinated by the tools people use. Sometimes they're pretty common and sometimes I'm surprised. Let's start with analog first. It seems like you do do analog drawing, or at least you used to when I first encountered you. Have you made a shift to digital, or you still feel really good about the pen-on-paper feel, and what pens and paper do you like?

JH: Yeah, I'm always a bit conflicted because, you know, this digital just has these massive advantages. But it still, there's nothing that quite is come close to the feeling of just writing in a notebook. So anyway, I do have it alongside me here.

So I have this kind of daily notebook that I'll always take, and so that's got like my, you know, mixes of to-do lists or here's a UI idea or yeah, here's me sketching out this framework, or here's a mind map for content for this talk. For the analog stuff, so I still do carry around a physical notebook, but my preference are dotted notebooks.

MR: Yes. Yeah.

JH: Yeah, I say I was always interested in credit problem-solving. I just think dotted just solves the problem. Like it basically looks like it's a blank page, which is lovely, but it allows you to structure data and actually like, do things in straight lines. And it helps guide your drawings without getting in the way of the content.

It was, Edward Tufte has this idea of a ghost grid, so there's a grid behind the whole thing which doesn't get in the way, you don't really notice at the end. So anyway, I really like the dotted notebooks. This one is a leach term. I never know how to pronounce it.

MR: Yeah, German company, group they call it.

JH: Good quality journal. But probably most of my ones I've had are the Moleskine. They're about, I don't know, bit bigger than A5. The large ones with a sort of flexible leather cover, and they do some really nice dotted ones as well.

I've tried plain, and plain looks lovely if you're just drawing, but if you're also making lists or structuring stuff and you want things to be in straight lines, the dotted is just so much better. Usually, I like ones with bright colors, that one's black, but you know.

MR: Yeah. I've got my bright-colored LEUCHTTURM is here as well.

JH: Yeah, absolutely.

MR: And I think LEUCHTTURM has done a really great job of finding that right gray level. So as an old printer, I know how tricky it is. They must use some kind of a special color, but it's just dark enough that you see it, but light enough that it fades in the background.

Some dotted notebooks don't do as good a job of this, and the dots are too dark and you know, they become noise. And so, you know, you don't appreciate it until you come across a notebook where they don't pay attention to those details and it just constantly gets in your way. So I think LEUCHTTURM has done a good job with that.

JH: Yeah. If people are giving out free notebooks, normally they're lined ones, I just can't get on with the lined ones.

MR: Yeah. It's not for me either. Not unless I'm writing a journal, but even in a journal I would just use dotted as well because it's got just enough structure. What about pens? It sounds like using Moleskine and LEUCHTTURM primarily.

JH: Yeah. For pens, I'm heavily influenced by what we had at Jump Associates, which I just think works beautifully. I actually can't find them very easily now. But there are some Uniball Vision Elite pens which is my preferred just everyday pens and they do nice sets of colors now, but I honestly just quite like the blacks and the blues.

That's just something about they have just like the right they beautiful clean lines and they're dark and they're bold and they're smooth to write with, and they don't bleed through too much. Yeah, you get the right-thickness ones, but yeah Uniball Vision Elites are the ones I like.

And then I always used to carry -- I sort of have -- I usually have two pens in my pocket, in any one time. But a black and then a highlight color, like a green or a red, and then I would have a Copic marker with me. I was used to carry around like usually a gray or sort of beige Copic marker, just to allow you to give a little background, a little shape to things. And I just think that just made a huge difference.

I think when I was doing a lot of paper stuff, I'd have also have like a bright color Copic marker as well for highlighting stuff, but not so much anymore. But I mean they've strongly influenced because I started analog, all the sketchplanations, they're basically, I keep to a simple color palette and often a bit of just gray in the background and that's, that's the influence of those pens.

MR: Yeah. And I can just imagine, I'm not looking at one of your sketchplanations, but all those things you just said, you know, black with a highlight color and a shadow is sort of like, you know, the recipe for a sketchplanation, and a square, right? Sort of those basic elements, I guess.

JH: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I mean, I don't know if a square necessarily, I'm looking around 'cause I have a bunch on my wall.

MR: I see some behind you now. Yeah.

JH: Yeah, yeah. I have a few of my favorite ones. But there is something about just like I think back to the storyboard notebooks, which I do really still really like, they just give you this frame to work in and sometimes the constraint is just really helpful. You like, okay, it's gotta work in here.

MR: And what about digital? Are you using some kind of digital tool? You sound like you were conflicted when you first began, so I suspect that's true.

JH: Yeah, I did. So I don't know when it was like five or six years ago, I moved to an iPad Pro when the iPad Pro and the pencil first came out. I think I still have the sort of initial large iPad Pro, the sort of a three size -- A3, A4 size one.

**MR: ** The big one. Yeah.

JH: Yeah. Which I really -- I mean, they're probably much better now, but it still works. It still works really nicely and I think the pencil's still pretty good.

MR: Yeah.

JH: Yeah, all of the sketchplanations I do now with that, but I know if I'm still just doing it, if I'm sketching a user interface quickly or something, I'll do that in my notebook and take a quick photo and sending Slack or something. And then you said that most people use Procreate. I have Procreate installed. I don't use Procreate.

MR: Interesting.

JH: Yeah. I use something called SketchBook Pro, if you've come across
that.

MR: Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, of course.

JH: It's Autodesk one, but you know, the free versions really good and they added a little thing that you can pay for that allows you to do a few extra bits, which is just super useful. I usually think like, you know, that phrase that "The best camera is the one you have with you."

MR: Yeah.

JH: It's kind of like, it doesn't really matter. Like what's more important is that you're able to write stuff down or make a note when you're inspired and that you just get to know your tools.

MR: Yes.

JH: Like, I'm sure I could get really good at Procreate, but I've kind of got the SketchBook Pro does what I want now, and so, you know, maybe one day I'll try something different, but it does what I want. And that's more important, is knowing your tools, I think than which tool you are using.

MR: Yeah, I agree. It's simple and effective and, you know, your fluid, so you know, if you want get yourself out of the way if you're fiddling with tools, that's not a good thing when you're trying to get a concept out because like you say that whatever's floating around in your head and the ether could get lost just as well, right, so you wanna move quick and catch it before it disappears, so.

JH: Yeah. Exactly.

MR: Autodesk's app is a classic. It's been around, I think since the beginning of the iPad. I think they ported it pretty early, so it's been around for quite a long time. And I've run into a few other people that use it. I use Paper by WeTransfer in that way. I just know the tool really deeply and if I need to get a concept out, I just pop it up and it's there and I go with it.

So in a similar way, but I do use Procreate for illustration work. If I know that my work will be scaled or I need modifications, Concepts is great for that 'cause it's vector-based, so gives me that additional level of control. So it really, I've been starting to try and be more specific around what is the task that I want to do, and then I choose the tool to fit it, but Paper is sort of my default.

If I don't have to choose, I'll go there first. And then if I have a specific need, I go to these other tools. And like you, I have to force myself because I would just be comfortable using this one tool. But, you know, illustrations have to be a certain resolution.

Paper it's not set up that way. It's not that kind of a tool. So I needed to move into Procreate and it's been a great tool for that. And same thing with Concepts, when those illustrations need to be scalable it's been a great tool for that. So I feel fortunate.

But it's hard, like when you invest a lot of time in a tool, you know, it's an intentional move to do spend time on another tool because you have to learn all that new stuff and you almost need like a project. You can't just do it fiddling around because there's not enough motivation. You really need a project, I think, to make you motivated to see results. So that's really interesting.

JH: Yeah. I think because sketchplanations is weekly, I never feel like I quite have enough time in a week to transition to something new. So I've never made the switch to try out new things. I was just like, "Right. Well, let's keep going with this one because I know it's gonna work right now."

MR: So that seems like a good fit for that purpose then.

JH: Yeah. I doubt, I mean, you know, any of these tools you see, people can draw beautiful, unbelievable things in all of them. So, you know, if they can do that, surely, surely this one's good enough for me, so.

MR: Yeah. I'm kind of curious, do you ever -- I'm assuming you must have a huge backlog of potential topics that you could draw, or do you struggle every week like, "Oh man, what am I gonna draw? It's Thursday, I better hurry up and pick a topic." And, "Okay. Got it done, Friday, whew. Okay. I hope I have something next week." Does it tend to be one side or the other, or do you have like a huge stack of like, logs waiting for you to pick and burn the fire?

JH: Yeah. Have you ever read the book, I think there was one about Bill Watterson and Calvin and Hobbs and how he drew Calvin and Hobbs.

MR: I haven't read that one. That would be fun.

JH: I forget exactly what it's called, but there's one, it was an extended interview with him about his process from the museum where they have his work. And I think I do it a little bit like he did it which is what he often would do is like, come up with a number of ideas for strips, sometimes draw 'em out just really roughly.

And then sometimes he would go through and ink them, and then later on he would come through and color them, let's say, and say at any one point, he might have three or five of them on the go and like do a day where he's like inking a day when he's coloring them all.

And so, I'm a little bit more like that so I have ones in various stages of being done. So I do, I do have a giant backlog of like, "Oh, that would be a cool sketch one day I should do that." That keeps coming up.

But I also have lots of draft sketches where I've started something or I'm like, oh, actually, you know, one day I put down three ideas or three different sketches and how I might do it. And then one week I might come across and do two of those and then post one of them, you know, that kind of thing.

So I always have this multi-stream approach. And also, I think for me, sometimes I guess it's kind of like this with any art, like you get to the end and it looks totally straightforward, but often I had to get through a lot of thinking in order to get there.

And so, sometimes just like putting an -- even if I pick, I'm gonna do this one this week, and I put that down the Friday before, and my brain can be turning that over through the days, over the next week. And so, I've actually by Wednesday, I've come up with a great example for it, and then I'll draw it on Thursday, you know, that kind of thing.

So yeah, that's kind of my process. But I do have a giant list and people send me great ideas all the time. So, the ideas come in faster than I can draw in for sure.

MR: If you think about it in the plant term, it's like you've got a big bucket of seeds and then you're planting these plants and you're watering them through, you know, constantly. And then when it seems like that one's ready, you pull it forward and finish it up and push it out and another seed comes and gets planted and you keep on watering. And it's sort of like the gardener of sketchplanations.

JH: That's a nice metaphor. Yeah, I like it. That's exactly how I meant to describe it.

MR: There you go. You can have that for free, Jono.

JH: Thank you.

MR: So Jono, tell us some tips you have for us. I like to frame it as someone's listening, they're a visual thinker of some kind, but they maybe feel like they're on hit a plateau. And I like to ask guests to give them encouragement. What would be three tips that you would tell someone like that to encourage them? Could be anything, can be mental tips, it can be practical tips, bring an extra pencil, something like that. So I'll leave it to you, but just three tips would be great.

JH: Yeah, so I gave a little bit of thought to this, and I came up with some of which I think are maybe disarmingly simple, perhaps. So the first one is, I have a concept -- I actually have a mouse mat of it right here, which is, the first draft is always perfect. And I really like this framing because it basically says, your first draft is probably gonna be rubbish, but that's okay 'cause that's the job of the first draft, and that's what makes it perfect.

And so, I guess my experience is there was when I'm stuck, or I'm not sure what to do, I just have to make myself do anything. And actually, I find just doing something is enough to like unblock it. And getting away from this idea that whatever you're gonna do is gonna be great, is just very liberating. And so, this idea of the first draft is always perfect, is a nice way to come to me.

I have another sketch, actually, it's up on my wall, which is called the Doorstep Mile, which is this really nice Scandinavian concept, I think, which is like, getting started can be the hardest part, which is like stepping out of your door. Like it's easy to go for a run once you've got your trainers on and you're outta your door. So you just have to get started. So first draft is always perfect.

I strongly believe like this idea that great ideas come during the hard work and not before it. So like, you don't have to have your great idea and then start work. Usually, all the best ideas I've had of while I'm doing the work. So get started.

The second tip I would have is to keep it simple. And the reason I say that is because I think it's easy to have really high expectations about, you know, what things are gonna turn out like, but actually in many ways, simple stuff is just as helpful as complex stuff. And sometimes it's even more useful.

I'm reminded of some diagrams which have been super helpful at work and in discussions where people literally just boxes and lines with texting. Like anybody can do boxes and lines. Sometimes I find just laying out words, like, if there's a process, I like lay out the words in an order, and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, this one becomes for that one." And I find that is valuable and clarifying to me. And it doesn't have to be like a complex visual in any ways.

And I think the other aspect to keep it simple, I think definitely for me it was, it's easy to get thrown by drawing people. And you'll see obviously, like in sketchplanations, my people are super, super simple, just a little bit more than a stick man.

But there are lots of ways actually to draw really simple people, which just allow you to put a person in there but not get hung up on the drawing of the person. And, you know, like drawing a star, it kind of looks like a person. You can do somebody jumping and that's fine, and that gets the idea across, and it doesn't have to be perfect. So keeping it simple is my second tip.

And my third tip is, keep going. My experience again is that I've done so many drawings where about halfway through they looked pretty rubbish. And I think often, you know, people ask me about, "Oh yeah, how can I learn to draw?" And I very much believe it's easy to start drawing something and it looked rubbish and then just stop and then assume that you couldn't do it or you weren't getting there.

And so often, I mean, partly the nice thing about sketchplanations is it's like clockwork. It's gonna make me do it, so I just keep going. And there's very often times where halfway through it felt like it wasn't working, the drawing wasn't right.

You know, like if you saw all the sketches along the way, sometimes, you know, they're awful, but you keep going at it and you refine this bit and you change this bit and you switch the direction, and then after a while, you get to a point where it looks really good.

And it's so easy to assume that people just come across and do the good thing straight away, but. So my tip is just even when you look at it is to keep going. In my research, there was a guy called Donald Shan who's an architect, and he did a lot of research about how do you teach and learn architecture.

He talked about drawing as a reflexive conversation with the situation, which takes a while to get your head around, but the idea is that you put a line on the page and then you see that line and that line informs your next line.

And so, there's this constant like back and forth and like, "Oh, I put this down and it doesn't quite fit so I moved it over there and I erased this bit and I moved it over there." And you're doing these hundreds of iterations just while you're just still working on it.

But you don't get that if you just stop on your first bit when it didn't come out like you want to. So those are my, my three ideas. So yeah, first draft is always perfect. Keep it really simple. You keep going.

MR: Those are three great tips. And I wholeheartedly believe in each one, and was imagining moments in my experience where I felt the same way. Especially number two, like getting partway into something and thinking, "Oh, this is not going the way I want." I'll just say, well, I'll just keep going a little bit more. Let's tweak that a little bit.

And a lot of times I found that the thing that I thought was going nowhere was a problem halfway through. By the time I get done with it, it's like one of my favorite things because, you know, there was really potential there that I had to unearth that potential to keep working it, working it, working it, until it developed into the thing, like you kind of fell in love with it, which is kind of a fun experience. So definitely believe in that.

JH: I always love the making of things, and like I went to see, it was a random gallery in Washington State where they had a Dr. Zeus exhibition and it had like his sketches before the final books.

And it's just always fascinating seeing people's process and realizing it's probably just as messy and confused as yours is. And it's quite liberating. Whenever we watch films, I'm always more interested in the making of the film than the film itself, not -- you know, I love that stuff.

MR: Yeah. If you happen to be a "Star Wars" fan and watch "Mandalorian," there was really great series. In addition to the show where it talks about how they made it and some of the crazy stuff they went through to achieve these, what at the outset seemed like impossible, "How are we going to do that?" They had some crazy idea and they, through process and everybody being creative, they were able to solve it. And you get to see how they achieved it.

And when you watch the episode, you know, you wouldn't even think of all the hoops that they're jumping through to make that happen, but yet they pulled it off. So, yeah, in the same way, I love that.

JH: Absolutely. I love it.

MR: Yeah. Well, thanks so much for those tips, Jono. Well, this has been really enjoyable chatting with you and getting inside of the way you think and your process, and so forth. Tell us, if someone's listening, how do they find sketch explanations? How do they find you? What's the best place to find you?

JH: Yeah, I mean, it's always a bit of a curse. Sketchplanations is not the easiest word to say or spell, but it does make sense when you think of that sketch explanation. So yeah, I mean, sketchplanations.com, I think I have, you know, pretty much monopoly on if you type that into any search engine, and it should probably correct and point you in the right direction.

If you're struggling with that, you can always put in Joho Hey, and that'll help get you there pretty quick. That's H-E-Y. And then we also started a podcast this year, which was quite fun.

MR: Oh, great.

JH: Yeah. Interesting. Like different angles, obviously, it's all visual, so in some ways, it's mad to do a podcast about something that's visual, but --

MR: Well, that's what you're on now is the podcast about sketchnoting.

JH: Yeah, exactly. But actually, it's been a lot of fun. You like taking a topic and like I say, going a bit deeper into than I can, just in a little quick sketch. And chatting about that, that's been fun. So that's sketchplanations.com/podcast.

MR: Great.

JH: But everything's pretty much there on the sketchplanation site.

MR: Can find you there. Great. Well, we'll definitely link it up. And in the meantime, between us recording now and this is getting published we'll see if we can get links to the things you've mentioned, the visuals that you mentioned in our discussion, and we'll link those up too, so that way if someone's listening and they wanna see what the Amazon flywheel or whatever, I think I've mixed that up, but yeah, the concept, they can pick it up to have peek, which would be great.

JH: Perfect.

MR: Well, thanks Jono. I'm really impressed with your reliability and your ability to continue going after 10 years. Some people would very easily be bored or would drive them mad, and it seems like you just keep on leaning into it and enjoying it.

That's really an encouraging thing to see, and I appreciate it. I think it's a great thing for the world, and I speak for all the other fans of your work. Thank you for the work you're doing. It's really valuable.

JH: Thank you, Mike. Yeah, I mean, I always consider it -- honestly, it's like the attention economy, right? People look at lots of places they can spend their attention, and it's a privilege to have a place where you can send something out and people will pay attention to it. So that's one of the things that keeps me going is that take that opportunity seriously.

And, you know, I also think a bit like you -- with this podcast, it's helped me out a huge deal as well. Like, it's not completely like selfless. I'm not just doing this for everybody else. Like I've got better a whole host of things as a result of doing this project.

The people I really had to thank is my wife and family for allowing me to go off on Saturdays from time to time and finish some sketches when I should be helping out around the house or, you know, having fun, but there you go. Yeah.

MR: There you go. Well, thanks so much, Jono. It's been a pleasure. And for those who are listening or watching, this is another episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast. Until the next episode, talk to you soon.

JH: Thanks, Mike.

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תוכן מסופק על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde. כל תוכן הפודקאסטים כולל פרקים, גרפיקה ותיאורי פודקאסטים מועלים ומסופקים ישירות על ידי Sketchnote Army Podcast and Mike Rohde או שותף פלטפורמת הפודקאסט שלו. אם אתה מאמין שמישהו משתמש ביצירה שלך המוגנת בזכויות יוצרים ללא רשותך, אתה יכול לעקוב אחר התהליך המתואר כאן https://he.player.fm/legal.

In this episode, Jono Hey shares how he visually represents complex ideas in simple ways that are sticky, memorable, and quick to get to grips with. He also talks about building a platform that connects schools with substitute teachers.

Sponsored by Concepts

This episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast is brought to you by Concepts, a perfect tool for sketchnoting, available on iOS, Windows, and Android.

Concepts' vector-based drawing feature gives you the power to adjust your drawings saving hours and hours of rework.

Vectors provide clean, crisp, high-resolution output for your sketchnotes at any size you need s ideal for sketchnoting.

SEARCH in your favorite app store to give it a try.

Running Order

  • Intro
  • Welcome
  • Who is Jono Hey
  • Origin Story
  • Jono Hey's current work
  • Sponsor: Concepts
  • Tips
  • Tools
  • Where to find Jono Hey
  • Outro

Links

Amazon affiliate links support the Sketchnote Army Podcast.

Tools

Amazon affiliate links support the Sketchnote Army Podcast.

Tips

  1. The first draft is always perfect.
  2. Keep it simple.
  3. Keep going.

Credits

  • Producer: Alec Pulianas
  • Theme music: Jon Schiedermayer
  • Shownotes and transcripts: Esther Odoro

Subscribe to the Sketchnote Army Podcast

You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube or your favorite podcast listening source.

Support the Podcast

To support the creation, production, and hosting of the Sketchnote Army Podcast, buy one of Mike Rohde’s bestselling books. Use code ROHDE40 at Peachpit.com for 40% off!

Episode Transcript

Mike Rohde: Hey everyone, it's Mike and I'm here with Jono Hey. Jono, welcome to the show. It's so good to have you.

Jono Hey: Well, thanks, Mike. It's so good to finally meet you after all these years.

MR: Yeah, it's great. We've connected years and years ago, specifically for a sample or I guess one of your pieces that we included in one of the sketchnote handbooks, sketchnote workbooks because I thought your stuff was really cool, and the way you thought about visualization was really interesting. So that's, I think, how we crossed paths initially, probably 10 years ago, almost.

JH: Yeah, I think it was probably about 10 years ago.

MR: Isn't that crazy?

JH: Yeah. And I came across your work from originally when you did the re-work book. That's for--

MR: That's right.

JH: -- which was also a long time ago.

MR: Yeah. That was more like 15 years ago almost that now. So crazy how time flies. Anyway, so that's how we crossed paths. I've always loved your work, and I'm amazed at your prolific nature and your ability to continuously produce these sketchplanations.

And if you are watching or listening, and you've not heard of, or seen Jono's sketchplanations, they're amazing. He basically visually represents often very complex ideas in simple ways. So you can sort of get the concept of the idea with some notes and such to help, you know, describe it. Is that a fair way to describe what your sketchplanations are?

JH: Yeah, definitely. It's about taking a concept and trying to just represent it in a picture in a way that's sort of sticky and memorable and quick to get to grips with. I think over the years I've definitely started adding a bit more layer of description, which you can take optionally, but you don't have to have it. That's the idea is that you have that surface level. If it's interesting, you can dive in, and if not, carry on, you know.

MR: Yeah. And I'd love to hear sort of the origin story of that and what is driving you to continue, but first, tell us a little bit about what you do and who you are, and then you can jump right into your -- I always love to have people do their own origin story.

So how did you end up doing what you're doing? Did you draw as a kid? Did somehow you snuck through school without it being shaken out of you? Or how did that all begin? So start with who you are, what you do, and then where you came from.

JH: Cool. Yeah, as you said, I'm Jono, and I'm mostly here because of my work for Sketchplanations, which is a weekly newsletter working towards explaining the world one sketch at a time. With the illustration side, I was lucky enough to do some illustrations for Bill Gates's book recently, the --

MR: Oh, good.

JH: -- "How to Prevent the Next Pandemic," which was really cool. The illustrations, Sketchplanations has all been sort of a side project, which I've been doing now for the 10 years or so, that we've crossed paths. In my day job, I run product development. So I've been a UX designer and I run product delivery.

I'm now on my second startup, which has been a really cool and really interesting parallel journey, and it feeds a lot of content and the sorts of things that come into Sketchplanations. You ask the origin story so I will go right back.

MR: Okay, good.

JH: Because I think it makes sense as to why I am doing what I'm doing. And I think if I go back far enough, I always used to quite like drawing, but I was never particularly good at art in the sense that they were always better artists than me, but I was always quite good at the maths and the science side of things.

And so, if I think back to, what's high school in the U.S. or A-levels in the UK, I did a bunch of science and maths-based ones, and then I did art. Art was always the one, which I was very happy to go spend my lunchtime working on my art homework, but of course, I didn't do as well in my art as all the other stuff.

And so, what I ended up doing was design engineering, which is a lovely way to blend the two things together really. So you're trying to draw for a purpose and you're trying to communicate things, come up with ideas, but then express them on paper. But they have to work as well, so you have to have the math and the science bit right.

I don't know who your heroes were growing up, but DaVinci was always one of mine. And it's quite difficult to, you know, get the breadth of what evidently Leonardo da Vinci was able to do, but that for me, when I was growing up, was always ideal, beautifully using his art to express like scientific or engineering concepts, which was cool.

So in many ways, I think that's sort of lives on in what I was still been trying to do. Way back, I was good at science and maths, but I always enjoyed the art and I was always interested also in like creative thinking, and so, when I came out of university, I spent a lot of time working on creativity, really, like design, creativity, how do you come up with new, cool ideas? And I was really interested in how we think I got really into mind maps.

So I use mind maps all the time. When pre preparing for this, and mind maps are brilliant for like visual recording and sketchnoting. I was so interested in it that I went over to UC Berkeley, where I did a Ph.D. studying new product development.

MR: Oh, wow.

JH: That was a really nice combination. So they had a great program there where you have the engineering side, but then you have the business side from the business school there. And then you have sort of industrial design, which was a collaboration with the California College of the Arts.

And so, you bring all of that together and then you want to come up with new products. But again, it's really about communicating ideas, but in a ways that the ideas have to work. Like new products, they have to be feasible and they have to be buildable, you know.

MR: Mm-hmm.

JH: UC Berkeley, I think was such an interesting place because I was also able to go explore, you know, like sociology and research methods. I did some really interesting classes in the language school there with George Lakoff on Metaphor. I was in the Berkeley Institute of Design, and they had a big focus on HCI, which is human-computer interaction.

And so, there was lots of psychology concepts that people were bringing in and were going around the place. And of course, I was involved with software. So it was lots of different influences. And I think you probably see pieces of all of those in the topics that I choose for Sketchplanations

MR: Yeah.

JH: After UC Berkeley, I found a fantastic company called Jump Associates who was actually -- I did a class at Stanford and the professor there works at Jump Associates. They're a growth strategy firm, which was all about helping companies figure out what they should do next, particularly when it came to new products.

But they had some really brilliant ways of working which still influenced me to this day. And what they were really good at, one of the things they were really good at was visual recording 'cause that's what we called it there, but in many ways, it was sketchnoting.

And so, we do a lot of working with clients where you do a workshop, you bring all the right people in the room, and you put provocative questions about, like, the nature of the project. We're trying to track what are the biggest challenges and so on. And then somebody on our team would be up there with a big whiteboard capturing the conversation and trying to get down the key ideas, and so, they didn't get lost.

And I've always had an interest in this, like, the ideas don't get lost in this sort of ether. You know, you had a conversation, some really good ideas, they floated away. Somebody wrote down something, but it wasn't necessarily the good things. And I just saw the power of like, you take a conversation and you put it up real time on the board, and it steers the conversation because it helps people come back to previous concepts that have been raised.

If somebody says, "Oh, the way I think of it is like this and this and this," and you put them up, and then later in the conversation people can see that on the board and they come back to that. And because that was like a core skill there, they really helped people develop with how to capture ideas in real-time on a board.

And even down to really basic things like how to properly hold a whiteboard pen so that you don't end up with like a thin line and then a thick line when you didn't mean to, and the color is even as you go, and what size letters should you be so that people all around the room can always read it wherever they are.

How do you keep your handwriting straight so that it doesn't end up looking like a mess? And we'd often like, take pictures of these at the end and present them and use them as a record of the discussion that we had.

And they were really valuable, I think artifacts, it was from the design process, but really for a purpose. And I think the other thing I think that Jump Associate was really interesting with was, it wasn't just physical things, but a lot of it was like frameworks or models. You are like visualizing abstract things as well.

So like, yeah, the three challenges in this. And then you try and visualize three challenges. You know, it is sort of an abstract way of thinking of things, or like business two by twos and things like that.

So I kept those skills going since Jump Associates. I worked in user experience in design at my first startup, and I was always like sketching user interfaces and like what it be, you know, user journeys, mapping out, and how people are going through your product, that kind of thing. And then back in 2012, I got a Christmas present from my sister, which was a -- they still sell it, it's a lovely book. It's a sketch-a-day journal.

A little green book about that size. If you open it up, there's two spaces for two sketches on each side of the page. So that's four days' worth, and it's literally just draw something a day. And so, I did that, and it was really lovely 'cause, you know, I'd always enjoy drawing, remember being on holidays as a kid and taking a little sketchbook postcards and stuff like that, and sitting outside in the evening and drawing them.

But I didn't find I was doing that art as much during the day anymore. And so, it was really nice just to draw something every day. And I found when I got to the end of that, I was like, "Ah, kind of miss, it seems a bit of a waste to not be drawing anymore." And then I was like, "Okay, well it would be nice also if it helped me in some way."

And so, I had this idea, well, I'll try and explain something because that's what I'm trying to do all day, is like, communicate an idea, communicate a concept. So, I'll explain something every day in a sketch. And I did that for a year, one a day. Halfway through I started posting some, 'cause they look quite nice. And I had little Moleskine what are they called? There was storyboard.

MR: Storyboard, yeah. I was guessing that that was what that you're using.

JH: Yeah. And then they really, they're really lovely. And so it was, it's a very similar format. You know, they're small sketchbooks, you open 'em up, there's four frames every now and then there's a one with three frames on one page. And just using that as like, these are my guides. I had to stay within that and, and do something.

And so I did that. And so, I started posting them and somebody said at one point, "Hey, you should put these online somewhere." And so, I started a little Tumblr page and started putting some on, on Twitter and, and people liked them. And so, I definitely found that I couldn't easily sustain one a day. But when I finished that, I went to one a week -- actually, it went to two a week first.

And I found that just didn't work at all because when there's two a week, you can always pick tomorrow to do one as opposed to today. But when there's one a week, you gotta make it happen. And now I've been doing that for 10 years. Maybe I've learned something.

MR: Wow. Sounds to me like a book opportunity to me, where you could gather, if not all, maybe the best of those sketchplanations and bound those into some kind of a book that people would buy. I would buy that book. I don't know about anybody else, but I think it would be quite nice.

JH: Thank you. Well, you know what? I am actually working on it at the moment.

MR: Oh, good. I'm glad to hear that.

JH: Yeah. After a long time, a publisher got in touch with me, somebody who've been following the newsletter and with a similar idea. And I've been, yeah, a few days a week over the last year trying to assemble everything together and I've been redoing things and checking things and it's coming together hopefully for next April, is the idea.

MR: Oh, great. That would be great. You have to let us know so we can share it with the Sketchnote Army community, so we can definitely get some pre-orders and purchases going for you.

JH: Definitely do that. Thank you.

MR: I know in the publishing business these days, pre-orders are a huge deal. Often publishers give away special tidbits to get you to pre-order. It looks very good on the sales charts. So if we can help in that way, I think the people here would be really your ideal customer for buying that for themselves and others.

JH: Well, I'll definitely take your tips on this. This would be book number one for me. So yeah, all your advice is welcome, and all your help. That'd be brilliant. Thank you.

MR: Yeah. You're so welcome. Well, this is pretty fascinating. It's interesting, our paths in some ways are parallel. Not exactly, but I was never the best artist either. I just was more practical in the work that I did. So I sort of took what art skill I had and sort of applied it to practical things. And so, that just kind of led me on my path. I'm also a user experience designer as well.

And I had a period of time for about three years where we did very similar things to what you talked about with the whiteboard with developers. So we would queue up software features that needed to be added to our software we were building. And we would sit down on Mondays and queue it up, look at what existed in the old software, do we like it? How could we improve it? Okay, let's have a discussion, and I would go to the board and document most of it.

Occasionally, a developer would ask to come up and draw, which always was my highlight of my day. And they would draw concepts, we would annotate it, take a photo, throw it on a SharePoint space, and sometimes the developers would just take the sketches we did and build right off of that. And other times I'd do mockups to kind of move things forward.

So, when you talked about that, I remembered how enjoyable that was for everybody. Really, everybody in that group. Developers, product owners, business analysts, all seemed to really enjoy it because as you say, there were these great ideas floating around in the ether if no one was attending to that to try and --

I had this idea of like, someone catching butterflies with a net. Like if you didn't catch those butterflies and pin them, you know, to the wall they would be lost because, you know, that person themselves maybe didn't even realize how valuable that idea was. You really needed someone to spot it and then capture it. So I think that's a really valuable way to work.

**JH:**Yeah. It's interesting that I have two real contrasting experiences there. Which one was this engineering world. And if you think of like, oh, you know, you want to see how fast this is gonna go when it knocks into that, it's like you draw the diagram, it's all established what the principles are. You don't just explain it with words, you draw it out exactly as it's gonna happen, right?

And then I did some classes in the education department at UC Berkeley, and we were talking about all sorts of really fascinating and difficult topics like reliability and validity and some concepts from sociology and things like that. And we'd sit in these rooms and do the reading beforehand, come in, and then you talk for an hour and lots of interesting points will come up, and everybody would just sort of absorb it, I guess, and scribble the odd word down and then walk off.

And I remember thinking as I left those classes, there was some really good stuff there, but I think everybody's gonna come out with a different view of it, and people are gonna forget some parts and remember others. And it's just a shame you can't get some middle ground a bit where you can talk about them things which are a bit more abstract, but actually help give them shape, give them a form that we can all be sure we're talking about the same thing.

And that happens in product development so often. You talked about software where we all talk about an idea and we all assume that we've got the same idea, but in fact, we don't. And part of what drawing it on the board is, and even just sometimes it's words, right? Trying to put it concretely into words is realizing, "Oh, when you said that, I was thinking of something different."

And it just puts this sort of shared space where you can all look at it and go, "Oh, yeah, now we're all on the same page here. And it was fascinating these discussions in the educator's department, but I'm sure we came across -- we left it with all sorts of different ideas, you know, afterwards.

MR: I used to call that -- I don't know if I got this term from somewhere or what, but I called it the illusion of agreement. So we all thought we agreed, but we all had different ideas in our heads. And if you didn't do something to sort of establish. Often, I would joke around with people like, okay, what we're doing here is we're just, I'm putting things on the board so we have something to argue about, right? To disagree about. Because if you start with something to disagree about, it least you have some starting point, and then you can work toward agreement from there.

So, you know, often it wasn't necessarily disagreement, but it was not uncommon for one person to talk about something and I would draw it on the board and they'd say, "No, no, that's not exactly what I was thinking." And then I'd hand the marker to them and they would come up and draw it and make it clear from their perspective.

And it sort of gave some solidity or some physicality or something to that idea. But then we could say, "Oh, okay, now I see what you're saying, and now let's have the discussion around that." We would build on it. And, you know, often that would be the solution that would work for us. So that was quite enjoyable.

JH: Yeah. The illusion of agreement is a great term. My thesis in the end was about reframing in the design process and how you settle as a design team on the framing of the design problem. And a lot of -- well, you wrote a paper about the how does teams establish a shared frame of things. And some of it is like when you put something out there, the conflicts and the differences become salient, whereas they weren't before.

And exactly that you all leave the meeting thinking that, "Great, we all know what to do", and you all think you've all actually got different ideas in mind about what that is. And when you come back later and you've built the wrong thing, everybody's like, "No, no, that's not what I meant." And so how do you head that off as early as possible? And some of it's making it concrete, and that's what the visuals are useful for.

MR: Yeah. Maybe the biggest risk in that illusion of agreement walking away is you actually build five new things. Well, then which of the five will we choose, right? Or is there overlap enough that they could be merged into one thing so that we're not spending energy in five directions, we redirect toward one direction, and kind of come to an agreement together?

JH: Yeah. Love that. And the sort of thing I still come across in my day job on a regular basis.

MR: Something else that struck me, and this is just something that struck me and relates to my education, is it sounded like Berkeley did lots of cross-training. So there was lots of overlap of departments, or at least for you as a student, you were kind of stepping into a variety of what would seem like unrelated spaces, but yet they are very related.

In my education and history, I went to a technical school and they were really, really adamant at that time about this cross-training. So if you were a designer, and this is like old school print designer, that's when I went to school, you were required to take photography classes because in those days you would work with photographers all the time to, you know, describe to them what you're looking for as a designer, and they would inform you. So you had to understand like, what are the materials that they work with so you could really understand it.

And also, printers. And I found myself working in the printing room and because I was so practical, I would often become almost like a teaching assistant down there because I had some history taking printing classes prior. So I would be in the design classes, sort of being the assistant to the teacher who often wasn't in the darkroom showing how to shoot films or whatever the thing was we were doing.

And so, I became sort of this teacher, but I always loved the cross-training 'cause I felt like I understood more of the holistic job that we were all doing together, even though my part was just one piece of it gave me a better appreciation of those and how they fit together. And it sounds like maybe you're doing something like that at Berkeley.

JH: Yeah. One of the things it is interesting is a difference I think in general between like doing a doctorate in the UK versus often I think in the U.S. Whereas in the UK typically, you might find a research advisor who's got a project idea and you are interested in it too, and it's all sort of settled and you go off and you do that research, it takes three years and then you present it.

In Berkeley, which I really appreciated, it wasn't expected that you come in knowing what it is exactly you wanna do. You're like, "I had an idea of what I was interested in." But essentially you spent the first two years taking classes to basically get you to be, I'd say like getting on for a world expert in each of these areas, really build your knowledge.

But that, I guess, gave you a huge amount of flexibility. And so, yeah, it was brilliant to be able to take classes in the language school. And I remember doing ones on game design and I took some in the information school and the education department and just that sort of breadth of knowledge and you never know which ideas are gonna be the ones coming in to be useful.

And I definitely really appreciated that. Whereas if I, you know, a traditional way, I was like, "Oh, I was in design engineering, I stay in the engineering school." That's where I do all my classes. But actually, I think it broadened my outlook and probably improved the end product is great deal by being able to do all that.

And hopefully, one of the things I think is interesting about sketchplanations is it's, I think, you know, none of us, just because you work in one area doesn't mean that's the only thing you're good at or the only thing you're interested in.

And so, it's nice to be able to go, you know, well here's the thing on wellbeing or healthcare, and then here's the thing about design and here's the thing about, you know, a business tool. And any of us can appreciate all of those. So yeah, I love the idea of being able to take ideas from lots of different places. It was definitely valuable to me.

MR: Well, we have lots of educators who I think listen to the podcast, so at the very least this can be an encouragement to teachers, teachers, if you're listening that doing cross-training with your students is really valuable, even if the students don't realize it in the moment.

You know, I certainly had plenty of colleagues in my university, in my technical school who grumbled that they had to go do photography class or had to do drawing. You know, "I'm a printer, why do I need to do these things?" But ultimately, it gave them a better-rounded experience. So if you're an educator, if you can find ways to sneak in cross-training, Jono and I are big fans of the idea.

JH: Hundred percent.

MR: Well, you sort of led us to what you're doing these days. What are you currently up to now? Are you working on software? Are you working on hardware? And how does you know, your visualization skills sort of fit into the work you're doing today?

JH: Yeah, I mean, I split my time at the moment. So a few days a week, I'm working, say right now on pulling together a book for sketchplanations and still continuing that. In the day-to-day, I lead product development team and -- well, four product development teams.

The company I'm working at is called Zen Educate. And we built a platform that connects schools with substitute teachers. So, oh, you can think about a bit like an Uber or an Airbnb, but for teachers to find work at schools and vice versa.

It is just such a really nice area where you're bringing in different skill sets and you're forced to do that. So you have to have people who know about education, and then you have to have software developers and you have a product manager and you have a designer, and you try and bring all of that expertise together to create something that is gonna provide value for teachers and for schools.

I do less of this specific day-to-day design and things than I used to. But you know, both the companies I've worked on the last 10 years started when they were very small. And I really like that phase 'cause just have to do everything otherwise nothing happens. But it's really nice.

So, you know, you're going out and doing research interviews, but you're also sketching interfaces, you're testing things as before they're delivered, you're writing product releases, you're communicating with, you know, stakeholders internally or the board members, you know, and all sorts of things.

And so, yeah, my job is a mix of all of that at the moment. I think we provide a great service for schools and we actually save. It's more efficient so we save schools money and we can pay teachers more. And we started in the UK, but we've since launched in the U.S. which is really exciting. So yeah, lots to keep me busy on that front too.

MR: That's pretty cool having those two clients, right? You know, schools needing on-demand teachers and then teachers being out there on a bench looking for an opportunity that you're just sort of putting those two things together in a great way. That's pretty cool.

JH: Yeah. And just as an example about where I think of visualization helping in that kind of thing, there's some really -- so it's a marketplace. You've got two sides of a marketplace and you have to balance supply and demand. And, you know, in some ways that's very concrete because you take a specific job that's available, let's say, and a teacher who wants to do it, and you wanna have to connect them properly. But there's also, just how do you think about a marketplace and making this successful?

And so, there's a nice concept called the Amazon flywheel, and there's another one called, I think it was Uber's virtuous cycle. I did sketches of both of those. And they just help you sort of -- you'll see like it is a little cycle like, you know, the more teachers you have on the marketplace, the better the matches are with the jobs, let's say, so the better the experience for schools, which means they put more of jobs available, which means that tracks more teachers. And so, you end up with like a flywheel.

And so, the same is true for Amazon's marketplace. The same is true for the density of drivers on Uber or journeys that you can do. And I just think like, it's interesting how it's easy, it's fine to talk about that, but it's so different when you put like a visualization or something like that, people just get it. You're like, "Oh, yeah, I see how it works." Whereas day to day there's like million little bits of data points, but trying to communicate abstract ways of thinking about these things, is sometimes super valuable. And so, I still like it at that sort of level.

MR: Yeah. And I imagine some people, like a developer, let's say, they're looking at this one little piece, like, I need to deliver this feature, or, but there is this whole flywheel or thing happening and they could see their position within it and why it's important what they're doing, right? So it gives meaning in a lot of ways.

Where if you just were heads down, pounding away on this feature, it wouldn't maybe have the same meaning to you, right? Like, "Hey, I'm part of this flywheel, or our goal is to really get this moving forward and let it have its own momentum."

JH: Yeah. Everybody's a connection to what's the point of what you're doing? There's dude, you should come across Dan Pink has really nice framework autonomy, mastery, purpose about motivation.

And so, I did a sketch of that and I think the purpose side of it is just so like, why am I doing what I'm doing? It's not exciting for me to be just creating this button, but if this button's gonna do this and that's gonna enable this bigger picture thing, then yeah, keeps you getting up every day.

MR: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, this has been really, really interesting and fascinating. We'll have to look around a little bit and if you've got those particular concepts and sketchplanations, maybe we can have some direct links to those so those who are listening or watching can pop 'em up on the screen and take a peek. So we'll work on that for the show notes later.

Let's shift now to your tools. I'm always really fascinated by the tools people use. Sometimes they're pretty common and sometimes I'm surprised. Let's start with analog first. It seems like you do do analog drawing, or at least you used to when I first encountered you. Have you made a shift to digital, or you still feel really good about the pen-on-paper feel, and what pens and paper do you like?

JH: Yeah, I'm always a bit conflicted because, you know, this digital just has these massive advantages. But it still, there's nothing that quite is come close to the feeling of just writing in a notebook. So anyway, I do have it alongside me here.

So I have this kind of daily notebook that I'll always take, and so that's got like my, you know, mixes of to-do lists or here's a UI idea or yeah, here's me sketching out this framework, or here's a mind map for content for this talk. For the analog stuff, so I still do carry around a physical notebook, but my preference are dotted notebooks.

MR: Yes. Yeah.

JH: Yeah, I say I was always interested in credit problem-solving. I just think dotted just solves the problem. Like it basically looks like it's a blank page, which is lovely, but it allows you to structure data and actually like, do things in straight lines. And it helps guide your drawings without getting in the way of the content.

It was, Edward Tufte has this idea of a ghost grid, so there's a grid behind the whole thing which doesn't get in the way, you don't really notice at the end. So anyway, I really like the dotted notebooks. This one is a leach term. I never know how to pronounce it.

MR: Yeah, German company, group they call it.

JH: Good quality journal. But probably most of my ones I've had are the Moleskine. They're about, I don't know, bit bigger than A5. The large ones with a sort of flexible leather cover, and they do some really nice dotted ones as well.

I've tried plain, and plain looks lovely if you're just drawing, but if you're also making lists or structuring stuff and you want things to be in straight lines, the dotted is just so much better. Usually, I like ones with bright colors, that one's black, but you know.

MR: Yeah. I've got my bright-colored LEUCHTTURM is here as well.

JH: Yeah, absolutely.

MR: And I think LEUCHTTURM has done a really great job of finding that right gray level. So as an old printer, I know how tricky it is. They must use some kind of a special color, but it's just dark enough that you see it, but light enough that it fades in the background.

Some dotted notebooks don't do as good a job of this, and the dots are too dark and you know, they become noise. And so, you know, you don't appreciate it until you come across a notebook where they don't pay attention to those details and it just constantly gets in your way. So I think LEUCHTTURM has done a good job with that.

JH: Yeah. If people are giving out free notebooks, normally they're lined ones, I just can't get on with the lined ones.

MR: Yeah. It's not for me either. Not unless I'm writing a journal, but even in a journal I would just use dotted as well because it's got just enough structure. What about pens? It sounds like using Moleskine and LEUCHTTURM primarily.

JH: Yeah. For pens, I'm heavily influenced by what we had at Jump Associates, which I just think works beautifully. I actually can't find them very easily now. But there are some Uniball Vision Elite pens which is my preferred just everyday pens and they do nice sets of colors now, but I honestly just quite like the blacks and the blues.

That's just something about they have just like the right they beautiful clean lines and they're dark and they're bold and they're smooth to write with, and they don't bleed through too much. Yeah, you get the right-thickness ones, but yeah Uniball Vision Elites are the ones I like.

And then I always used to carry -- I sort of have -- I usually have two pens in my pocket, in any one time. But a black and then a highlight color, like a green or a red, and then I would have a Copic marker with me. I was used to carry around like usually a gray or sort of beige Copic marker, just to allow you to give a little background, a little shape to things. And I just think that just made a huge difference.

I think when I was doing a lot of paper stuff, I'd have also have like a bright color Copic marker as well for highlighting stuff, but not so much anymore. But I mean they've strongly influenced because I started analog, all the sketchplanations, they're basically, I keep to a simple color palette and often a bit of just gray in the background and that's, that's the influence of those pens.

MR: Yeah. And I can just imagine, I'm not looking at one of your sketchplanations, but all those things you just said, you know, black with a highlight color and a shadow is sort of like, you know, the recipe for a sketchplanation, and a square, right? Sort of those basic elements, I guess.

JH: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I mean, I don't know if a square necessarily, I'm looking around 'cause I have a bunch on my wall.

MR: I see some behind you now. Yeah.

JH: Yeah, yeah. I have a few of my favorite ones. But there is something about just like I think back to the storyboard notebooks, which I do really still really like, they just give you this frame to work in and sometimes the constraint is just really helpful. You like, okay, it's gotta work in here.

MR: And what about digital? Are you using some kind of digital tool? You sound like you were conflicted when you first began, so I suspect that's true.

JH: Yeah, I did. So I don't know when it was like five or six years ago, I moved to an iPad Pro when the iPad Pro and the pencil first came out. I think I still have the sort of initial large iPad Pro, the sort of a three size -- A3, A4 size one.

**MR: ** The big one. Yeah.

JH: Yeah. Which I really -- I mean, they're probably much better now, but it still works. It still works really nicely and I think the pencil's still pretty good.

MR: Yeah.

JH: Yeah, all of the sketchplanations I do now with that, but I know if I'm still just doing it, if I'm sketching a user interface quickly or something, I'll do that in my notebook and take a quick photo and sending Slack or something. And then you said that most people use Procreate. I have Procreate installed. I don't use Procreate.

MR: Interesting.

JH: Yeah. I use something called SketchBook Pro, if you've come across
that.

MR: Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, of course.

JH: It's Autodesk one, but you know, the free versions really good and they added a little thing that you can pay for that allows you to do a few extra bits, which is just super useful. I usually think like, you know, that phrase that "The best camera is the one you have with you."

MR: Yeah.

JH: It's kind of like, it doesn't really matter. Like what's more important is that you're able to write stuff down or make a note when you're inspired and that you just get to know your tools.

MR: Yes.

JH: Like, I'm sure I could get really good at Procreate, but I've kind of got the SketchBook Pro does what I want now, and so, you know, maybe one day I'll try something different, but it does what I want. And that's more important, is knowing your tools, I think than which tool you are using.

MR: Yeah, I agree. It's simple and effective and, you know, your fluid, so you know, if you want get yourself out of the way if you're fiddling with tools, that's not a good thing when you're trying to get a concept out because like you say that whatever's floating around in your head and the ether could get lost just as well, right, so you wanna move quick and catch it before it disappears, so.

JH: Yeah. Exactly.

MR: Autodesk's app is a classic. It's been around, I think since the beginning of the iPad. I think they ported it pretty early, so it's been around for quite a long time. And I've run into a few other people that use it. I use Paper by WeTransfer in that way. I just know the tool really deeply and if I need to get a concept out, I just pop it up and it's there and I go with it.

So in a similar way, but I do use Procreate for illustration work. If I know that my work will be scaled or I need modifications, Concepts is great for that 'cause it's vector-based, so gives me that additional level of control. So it really, I've been starting to try and be more specific around what is the task that I want to do, and then I choose the tool to fit it, but Paper is sort of my default.

If I don't have to choose, I'll go there first. And then if I have a specific need, I go to these other tools. And like you, I have to force myself because I would just be comfortable using this one tool. But, you know, illustrations have to be a certain resolution.

Paper it's not set up that way. It's not that kind of a tool. So I needed to move into Procreate and it's been a great tool for that. And same thing with Concepts, when those illustrations need to be scalable it's been a great tool for that. So I feel fortunate.

But it's hard, like when you invest a lot of time in a tool, you know, it's an intentional move to do spend time on another tool because you have to learn all that new stuff and you almost need like a project. You can't just do it fiddling around because there's not enough motivation. You really need a project, I think, to make you motivated to see results. So that's really interesting.

JH: Yeah. I think because sketchplanations is weekly, I never feel like I quite have enough time in a week to transition to something new. So I've never made the switch to try out new things. I was just like, "Right. Well, let's keep going with this one because I know it's gonna work right now."

MR: So that seems like a good fit for that purpose then.

JH: Yeah. I doubt, I mean, you know, any of these tools you see, people can draw beautiful, unbelievable things in all of them. So, you know, if they can do that, surely, surely this one's good enough for me, so.

MR: Yeah. I'm kind of curious, do you ever -- I'm assuming you must have a huge backlog of potential topics that you could draw, or do you struggle every week like, "Oh man, what am I gonna draw? It's Thursday, I better hurry up and pick a topic." And, "Okay. Got it done, Friday, whew. Okay. I hope I have something next week." Does it tend to be one side or the other, or do you have like a huge stack of like, logs waiting for you to pick and burn the fire?

JH: Yeah. Have you ever read the book, I think there was one about Bill Watterson and Calvin and Hobbs and how he drew Calvin and Hobbs.

MR: I haven't read that one. That would be fun.

JH: I forget exactly what it's called, but there's one, it was an extended interview with him about his process from the museum where they have his work. And I think I do it a little bit like he did it which is what he often would do is like, come up with a number of ideas for strips, sometimes draw 'em out just really roughly.

And then sometimes he would go through and ink them, and then later on he would come through and color them, let's say, and say at any one point, he might have three or five of them on the go and like do a day where he's like inking a day when he's coloring them all.

And so, I'm a little bit more like that so I have ones in various stages of being done. So I do, I do have a giant backlog of like, "Oh, that would be a cool sketch one day I should do that." That keeps coming up.

But I also have lots of draft sketches where I've started something or I'm like, oh, actually, you know, one day I put down three ideas or three different sketches and how I might do it. And then one week I might come across and do two of those and then post one of them, you know, that kind of thing.

So I always have this multi-stream approach. And also, I think for me, sometimes I guess it's kind of like this with any art, like you get to the end and it looks totally straightforward, but often I had to get through a lot of thinking in order to get there.

And so, sometimes just like putting an -- even if I pick, I'm gonna do this one this week, and I put that down the Friday before, and my brain can be turning that over through the days, over the next week. And so, I've actually by Wednesday, I've come up with a great example for it, and then I'll draw it on Thursday, you know, that kind of thing.

So yeah, that's kind of my process. But I do have a giant list and people send me great ideas all the time. So, the ideas come in faster than I can draw in for sure.

MR: If you think about it in the plant term, it's like you've got a big bucket of seeds and then you're planting these plants and you're watering them through, you know, constantly. And then when it seems like that one's ready, you pull it forward and finish it up and push it out and another seed comes and gets planted and you keep on watering. And it's sort of like the gardener of sketchplanations.

JH: That's a nice metaphor. Yeah, I like it. That's exactly how I meant to describe it.

MR: There you go. You can have that for free, Jono.

JH: Thank you.

MR: So Jono, tell us some tips you have for us. I like to frame it as someone's listening, they're a visual thinker of some kind, but they maybe feel like they're on hit a plateau. And I like to ask guests to give them encouragement. What would be three tips that you would tell someone like that to encourage them? Could be anything, can be mental tips, it can be practical tips, bring an extra pencil, something like that. So I'll leave it to you, but just three tips would be great.

JH: Yeah, so I gave a little bit of thought to this, and I came up with some of which I think are maybe disarmingly simple, perhaps. So the first one is, I have a concept -- I actually have a mouse mat of it right here, which is, the first draft is always perfect. And I really like this framing because it basically says, your first draft is probably gonna be rubbish, but that's okay 'cause that's the job of the first draft, and that's what makes it perfect.

And so, I guess my experience is there was when I'm stuck, or I'm not sure what to do, I just have to make myself do anything. And actually, I find just doing something is enough to like unblock it. And getting away from this idea that whatever you're gonna do is gonna be great, is just very liberating. And so, this idea of the first draft is always perfect, is a nice way to come to me.

I have another sketch, actually, it's up on my wall, which is called the Doorstep Mile, which is this really nice Scandinavian concept, I think, which is like, getting started can be the hardest part, which is like stepping out of your door. Like it's easy to go for a run once you've got your trainers on and you're outta your door. So you just have to get started. So first draft is always perfect.

I strongly believe like this idea that great ideas come during the hard work and not before it. So like, you don't have to have your great idea and then start work. Usually, all the best ideas I've had of while I'm doing the work. So get started.

The second tip I would have is to keep it simple. And the reason I say that is because I think it's easy to have really high expectations about, you know, what things are gonna turn out like, but actually in many ways, simple stuff is just as helpful as complex stuff. And sometimes it's even more useful.

I'm reminded of some diagrams which have been super helpful at work and in discussions where people literally just boxes and lines with texting. Like anybody can do boxes and lines. Sometimes I find just laying out words, like, if there's a process, I like lay out the words in an order, and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, this one becomes for that one." And I find that is valuable and clarifying to me. And it doesn't have to be like a complex visual in any ways.

And I think the other aspect to keep it simple, I think definitely for me it was, it's easy to get thrown by drawing people. And you'll see obviously, like in sketchplanations, my people are super, super simple, just a little bit more than a stick man.

But there are lots of ways actually to draw really simple people, which just allow you to put a person in there but not get hung up on the drawing of the person. And, you know, like drawing a star, it kind of looks like a person. You can do somebody jumping and that's fine, and that gets the idea across, and it doesn't have to be perfect. So keeping it simple is my second tip.

And my third tip is, keep going. My experience again is that I've done so many drawings where about halfway through they looked pretty rubbish. And I think often, you know, people ask me about, "Oh yeah, how can I learn to draw?" And I very much believe it's easy to start drawing something and it looked rubbish and then just stop and then assume that you couldn't do it or you weren't getting there.

And so often, I mean, partly the nice thing about sketchplanations is it's like clockwork. It's gonna make me do it, so I just keep going. And there's very often times where halfway through it felt like it wasn't working, the drawing wasn't right.

You know, like if you saw all the sketches along the way, sometimes, you know, they're awful, but you keep going at it and you refine this bit and you change this bit and you switch the direction, and then after a while, you get to a point where it looks really good.

And it's so easy to assume that people just come across and do the good thing straight away, but. So my tip is just even when you look at it is to keep going. In my research, there was a guy called Donald Shan who's an architect, and he did a lot of research about how do you teach and learn architecture.

He talked about drawing as a reflexive conversation with the situation, which takes a while to get your head around, but the idea is that you put a line on the page and then you see that line and that line informs your next line.

And so, there's this constant like back and forth and like, "Oh, I put this down and it doesn't quite fit so I moved it over there and I erased this bit and I moved it over there." And you're doing these hundreds of iterations just while you're just still working on it.

But you don't get that if you just stop on your first bit when it didn't come out like you want to. So those are my, my three ideas. So yeah, first draft is always perfect. Keep it really simple. You keep going.

MR: Those are three great tips. And I wholeheartedly believe in each one, and was imagining moments in my experience where I felt the same way. Especially number two, like getting partway into something and thinking, "Oh, this is not going the way I want." I'll just say, well, I'll just keep going a little bit more. Let's tweak that a little bit.

And a lot of times I found that the thing that I thought was going nowhere was a problem halfway through. By the time I get done with it, it's like one of my favorite things because, you know, there was really potential there that I had to unearth that potential to keep working it, working it, working it, until it developed into the thing, like you kind of fell in love with it, which is kind of a fun experience. So definitely believe in that.

JH: I always love the making of things, and like I went to see, it was a random gallery in Washington State where they had a Dr. Zeus exhibition and it had like his sketches before the final books.

And it's just always fascinating seeing people's process and realizing it's probably just as messy and confused as yours is. And it's quite liberating. Whenever we watch films, I'm always more interested in the making of the film than the film itself, not -- you know, I love that stuff.

MR: Yeah. If you happen to be a "Star Wars" fan and watch "Mandalorian," there was really great series. In addition to the show where it talks about how they made it and some of the crazy stuff they went through to achieve these, what at the outset seemed like impossible, "How are we going to do that?" They had some crazy idea and they, through process and everybody being creative, they were able to solve it. And you get to see how they achieved it.

And when you watch the episode, you know, you wouldn't even think of all the hoops that they're jumping through to make that happen, but yet they pulled it off. So, yeah, in the same way, I love that.

JH: Absolutely. I love it.

MR: Yeah. Well, thanks so much for those tips, Jono. Well, this has been really enjoyable chatting with you and getting inside of the way you think and your process, and so forth. Tell us, if someone's listening, how do they find sketch explanations? How do they find you? What's the best place to find you?

JH: Yeah, I mean, it's always a bit of a curse. Sketchplanations is not the easiest word to say or spell, but it does make sense when you think of that sketch explanation. So yeah, I mean, sketchplanations.com, I think I have, you know, pretty much monopoly on if you type that into any search engine, and it should probably correct and point you in the right direction.

If you're struggling with that, you can always put in Joho Hey, and that'll help get you there pretty quick. That's H-E-Y. And then we also started a podcast this year, which was quite fun.

MR: Oh, great.

JH: Yeah. Interesting. Like different angles, obviously, it's all visual, so in some ways, it's mad to do a podcast about something that's visual, but --

MR: Well, that's what you're on now is the podcast about sketchnoting.

JH: Yeah, exactly. But actually, it's been a lot of fun. You like taking a topic and like I say, going a bit deeper into than I can, just in a little quick sketch. And chatting about that, that's been fun. So that's sketchplanations.com/podcast.

MR: Great.

JH: But everything's pretty much there on the sketchplanation site.

MR: Can find you there. Great. Well, we'll definitely link it up. And in the meantime, between us recording now and this is getting published we'll see if we can get links to the things you've mentioned, the visuals that you mentioned in our discussion, and we'll link those up too, so that way if someone's listening and they wanna see what the Amazon flywheel or whatever, I think I've mixed that up, but yeah, the concept, they can pick it up to have peek, which would be great.

JH: Perfect.

MR: Well, thanks Jono. I'm really impressed with your reliability and your ability to continue going after 10 years. Some people would very easily be bored or would drive them mad, and it seems like you just keep on leaning into it and enjoying it.

That's really an encouraging thing to see, and I appreciate it. I think it's a great thing for the world, and I speak for all the other fans of your work. Thank you for the work you're doing. It's really valuable.

JH: Thank you, Mike. Yeah, I mean, I always consider it -- honestly, it's like the attention economy, right? People look at lots of places they can spend their attention, and it's a privilege to have a place where you can send something out and people will pay attention to it. So that's one of the things that keeps me going is that take that opportunity seriously.

And, you know, I also think a bit like you -- with this podcast, it's helped me out a huge deal as well. Like, it's not completely like selfless. I'm not just doing this for everybody else. Like I've got better a whole host of things as a result of doing this project.

The people I really had to thank is my wife and family for allowing me to go off on Saturdays from time to time and finish some sketches when I should be helping out around the house or, you know, having fun, but there you go. Yeah.

MR: There you go. Well, thanks so much, Jono. It's been a pleasure. And for those who are listening or watching, this is another episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast. Until the next episode, talk to you soon.

JH: Thanks, Mike.

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